It can be tough being a street photographer. And one of the toughest challenges we face is being ‘invisible’ . . . blending in to our environment . . . being camouflaged. We aim or strive to be unobtrusive, not disrupting or interfering with the scene that confronts us. It is one of the most useful street photography techniques. “Easier said than done”, I hear you say. Not necessarily . . .

There is a number of simple things you can do to make it less obvious that you are a photographer. This is quite a big topic, but here’s a shortlist of the things I recommend my students do if they have any concerns in this area:

  • Wear headphones (if you appear to be immersed in your own world, you are less likely to be challenged).
  • Wear sunglasses (it’s a barrier which usually deters people from making contact).
  • Wear a hat (for the same reason).
  • Wear clothes that don’t stand out and which blend in with other people around you. Dark clothes work best for street photography.
  • Don’t make eye contact with people around you.
  • Don’t behave in a shifty, secretive or furtive manner. This will only make you stand out even more.
  • Turn all your camera’s sounds OFF! Pings, bleeps and loud clicks will draw attention to you.
  • Work quickly: take the picture, quickly drop the camera down to waist height and move on. Don’t linger!
  • Don’t ‘chimp’ – ie. don’t look at you picture you have just taken on your camera’s LCD screen – people tend to be curious and it may encourage others to do the same.
  • Don’t walk round with a DSLR and a long lens round your neck. Be discreet. Don’t even think about looking like a pro.
  • Shun colourful camera straps the scream ‘Canon’ or ‘Nikon’ in big, bright letters. Go for something thin, dark and discreet.
  • Never use flash.
  • Pretend you are photographing something else (easy if you’re shooting on a short lens). With a wide-angle lens. your field of view will be broad enough to incorporate your target in the frame even if the lens appears to be pointing somewhere else.

Having said all that, presumably you are not doing anything ‘wrong’ and should have nothing to fear anyway. Over time, you will become de-sensitised to shooting strangers on the streets and will think nothing of it. In the short term, however, you may find some of these tips helpful. Believe me, persevere and you will be taking all this in your stride in no time at all.

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